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Our master's are taught programmes, and they also provide the appropriate research training for those going on to take PhDs.

As a part of your degree, you will actively engage with the University's world-leading archives and special collections.

There are two teaching semesters, and assessment is by essays or portfolios with a dissertation written over the summer.


Our teaching methods

Teaching takes place in small seminar groups or workshops and tutorials. You will be offered guidance to help you choose your dissertation topic. You will be given an expert supervisor for your dissertation, who will meet you regularly and offer feedback on your draft work.

You will have a personal tutor with whom you can discuss your academic progress and future. 

Part-time students will undertake one module per semester over the two years and will work on their dissertation in the summer of their first and second years.

Studying for an MA in English at Reading gave me the opportunity to develop my writing through the course’s wide array of modules, to get my poetry published in the University's Creative Writing anthology, and to make lifelong friends with other English enthusiasts. I enjoyed my time so much on this MA that I am returning to pursue a PhD in English.
Liam Anslow-Sucevic


You’ll usually be taught in weekly two-hour seminars or workshops for each module, typically in much smaller groups than at undergraduate level.

These seminars and workshops involve free-flowing discussion and debate on your weekly reading and/or writing, guided by an expert in the field. Modules are often taught by small teams of lecturers.

Essay tutorials

You will be offered individual guidance on the essays or writing projects which you produce for each module by your seminar leader.

You will also receive detailed feedback on your written work.

Dissertation supervision

Your dissertation will be supervised in individual meetings with an expert on your topic who will comment on drafts of your work.

You will also have the opportunity to share your ideas with your peers in seminar and/or workshop settings.

MA English Literature

The MA English Literature presents students with an exciting range of topics and periods, from the Renaissance stage to minority literatures in contemporary Britain. We deploy our distinctive research strengths, and our world-leading literary collections, to produce a degree that embodies the best of contemporary critical and archival work.

Hear from Dr John Scholar about MA English Literature (Part 1 of 2)

Hear from Dr John Scholar about MA English Literature (Part 2 of 2)

Alannah's experience of MA English Literature at University of Reading

Alannah discusses her modules, experiences and the support she received on our MA English Literature programme.

Doing the MA English Literature opened my mind to the works and thoughts of a huge cross-section of writers and cultures. Having access to the impressive Special Collections, which includes the Beckett archives, was particularly interesting. I looked forward to my seminars each week and came away inspired. 

Juanita West

MA English Literature graduate, now PhD researcher

Core modules

There are two core modules in the first semester. There is also a core module in the summer: the dissertation.

  • Materiality and Textuality introduces you to research, editorial, and bibliographical techniques, with an emphasis on working in our literary archives.
  • The Dissertation is a 15,000-word essay. You choose a topic from any period of English Literature in consultation with staff. You will work on your dissertation in the summer with individual supervision from experts. Alternatively, you can submit a creative writing dissertation.

Optional modules

You choose three from a list which might include:

  • Samuel Beckett
  • Contemporary Literature and Ethnicity
  • Opening Up Medieval Texts
  • Early Modern Literature
  • Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century Literature
  • Literature and Culture of the 1850s
  • Modern and Contemporary Literature
  • Modern Literary Feminisms: Theories/Praxis/Texts

MRes in Children's Literature

This extremely popular and well-known fully-taught MRes course can be studied on a full-time or part-time basis and involves the study of a wide range of Children's Literature, and a wide range of issues around Children's Literature, childhood, history, culture, and media.

The MRes in Children's Literature is run by CIRCL (Centre for International Research in Childhood). The Staff teaching on the MRes are all members of CIRCL, and you can read about their research and teaching interests and responsibilities on the CIRCL website.

I enjoyed pretty much every seminar taught by our passionate, enthusiastic, and supportive staff. In each seminar, I did immerse myself a lot in every discussion of theories, translations, readership, authorship, fairy tales, storytelling, images and texts, school stories, education, children's films and so forth. It was like going on an intriguing adventure or a treasure hunt to explore the implications behind the texts
Ting Fang Yeh, MRes Children's Literature graduate and PhD student


The main approaches in the course are drawn from literary theory and cultural studies. The taught syllabus consists of six units. The three core modules consist of the theoretical basis (research methods and approaches) for the study of Children's Literature, together with detailed study of nineteenth and twentieth century Children's Literature; three additional components are drawn from the following list of modules:

  • North American Children's Literature
  • Post/Colonial Children's Literature
  • Children's Radio, Film and Television
  • Myth and Folktale in Children's Literature
  • Popular Forms of Children's Fiction

The three additional units to be offered each year will depend upon student choices and staff availability. For more information on modules, please see the CIRCL website.


You will be taught through a range of seminars, lectures, and tutorials, followed by a period of independent research for a dissertation of 20,000 words. Regular research talks by visiting academics are organised through CIRCL.

For your dissertation, you will have the unique opportunity to be supervised on a one-to-one basis by one of the CIRCL staff who is an expert in your chosen topic.

Research skills

To help develop your research skills you will receive training in finding resources for the study of Children's Literature at the beginning of your MRes as well as a five-hour unit specifically directed at research for the dissertation. Training is also available on how to use archives in the University's special collections.

MA Creative Writing

The MA in Creative Writing offers you the unique opportunity to develop under supervision a mid-length project of your own devising in either poetry, fiction, drama, or creative non-fiction.

To support this work, you will study literary and archival research methods, and can opt to take modules in fields related to the practice and life of writing, such as journalism, publishing, and teaching.

Core modules

In the autumn term you will take two core modules:

  • Project Development 1 helps you identify and plan your main creative writing project which will be completed in the summer. It is conducted through weekly workshops and individual tutorials with your supervisor.
  • Materiality and Textuality introduces you to research, editorial, and bibliographical techniques, with an emphasis on working in our literary archives, and is shared with the MA English Literature.

In the spring term you will take one optional module from the specialist creative writing modules listed below (or can opt to take one of those offered on the MA English Literature) alongside the following core module:

  • Project Development 2 provides the opportunity to produce substantial drafts of material towards your creative project, to workshop these drafts with your peers, and receive feedback from your supervisor.

Optional modules

  • Publishing and the Business of Book
  • Persuasive Writing for the Creative Industries

In the summer term and summer, you will concentrate on completing your dissertation which will consist of the writing project developed through the previous two terms and an accompanying critical commentary.


Life in the Department

Join our postgraduate community and become an integral part of our thriving and dynamic Department.


Meet our experts

Our talented and internationally-diverse team are actively involved in research, contributing directly to your teaching and supervision.

Special Collections and resources

Access unique original manuscript collections, journals, the Museum of English Rural Life and its archives, a Royal Literary Fund Fellow, rare collections of books, and much more.